I LOVE finding new foodie things at shee shee gourmet food shops. I immediately pop the item into my basket, full of excited inspiration and quickly get my ass into the kitchen to start experimenting! This time, I found a box of gluten free Sweet Potato Flour. I had never seen this kind of flour before. Wow! Not to mention sweet potatoes happen to be one of my favorite foods. The bread came out moist and delicious with the subtly sweetness that only sweet potatoes naturally ensue. My BF used it to make a savory sandwich with kale, black olives, tomatoes, sea salt and olive oil. I poo pooed his creation at first, thinking the flavors wouldn’t work together. But boy oh boy was I wrong!
Photographer V Blak
The title should give you a clue to what I am about to rant about and if it doesn’t maybe the I HATE TEMPEH Tattoo on my arm will. I really do hate Tempeh. I mean, I don’t have a hate thing going just because it is Tempeh, I am not like that. I hate it because every time I order Tempeh at a restaurant (like Real Food Daily in Santa Monica) it just taste like cardboard. I am not joking, a fedex box would be better. The waiter serving it even says to me, and who ordered the cardboard. Okay he didn’t say that, but he really should have. People ordering this stuff must really be into the possible health benefits, because come on, really who could like the taste of this stuff. Reminds me of those diet dried rice cakes, I remember people sucking down in the 80’s to lose weight. Dull boring cardboard cakes, MMMMM not!
So, the other day, I am hanging out with Aria and I think she asked me if I liked Tempeh (I guess she didn’t see my tat) and of course that set me off on a rant like the one above. No, I do not like Tempeh, I do not like Tempeh in a salad, I do not like Tempeh on a sandwich, I do not like Tempeh Loafs, I do not like Tempeh while sitting with a goat, or while wearing a coat, I just do not like Tempeh. Well, Aria didn’t like that at all. She gave me a look that could kill a child. Her face turned red and she said, you just don’t know what your talking about. Tempeh is a wonderful food. It’s a whole food don’t you know. It has amazing health benefits (oh here we go) for sickly looking Vegans (hint hint), such as natural cultures to help digestion, protein to pump up those muscles and vitamins like B, calcium, and even essential fatty acids. Yeah yeah yeah, as I roll my eyes, but it taste like cardboard, I said. And I am sure Cardboard has great fiber, but I am not about to sit down and suck down an amazon.com box anytime soon. This just got her fuming… (i am joking, she is actually very calm and when she hit me with the Tempeh package, it didn’t really hurt). Then she said, okay we are going to have a challenge, which I can’t remember exactly what it was, but basically she would make Tempeh I would actually find it impossible to not say, WOW, this is good. Hmmm not likely was my response. She wasn’t phased, she just started cooking and I eased my way out of the kitchen to eat some of my cashew spicy cheesy kale chips.. mmmm. Now those are good… just saying!
What did she make? Hmmm I will give you a hint, I named the recipe in the title. She made a Sweet and yet Spicy Baked Tempeh which was not only good, it was really really good and yes I couldn’t resist… I said Wow, but not in front of her of course. There wasn’t a single hint of the dreaded cardboardishness of all the other Tempeh’s on the planet. What made this tempeh different, then lets say Real Food Daily’s tempeh, it was all in the sauce. When those words came out of my mouth, Aria just rolled her eyes and said, of course it’s the sauce, you thick Monkie. Tempeh doesn’t have a flavor of it’s own. You have to marinate it, to allow it to soak up all the yummy spices. But my point was that it’s the sauce oozing over the tempeh, giving it a nice moist feeling, like a nice BBQ rib or something, which made it so…yummy. No, I don’t eat ribs or any animal anything, but I have in my lifetime so I know what I am talking about. She did the impossible, she made cardboard taste good, hmmmm, maybe she can tackle the rest of Real Food Daily’s menu next. I will keep you posted.
Yes, Aria won again and so can you. Just say no to Cardboard and try this recipe!
Photographer: Julia Morris
I wish I had a brownie for every time I’ve been informed that eating naturally is simply too hard. While making fancy shmancy meals can be a fun project, uber delicious healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated. Some of my favorite “recipes” are not recipes at all. Take, for example, a fig. Bite into it and . . . whoa! All those little seeds and colors and textures are like whole universe of magnificent complexity tucked inside a shriveled-looking edible fruit package. Imagine if the fig didn’t exist, and some company “invented” the recipe for one: would the fig not be the most amazing “product?” So much of our food experience comes down to mindset.
There’s a style of Japanese brush painting called shodo – a form of calligraphy with an abstract offshoot that attempts to capture energy and kinetics through a few simple brush strokes. Whereas most styles of painting take days, months, even years to complete, shodo takes just a few calculated moments. A swish. A swash. Maybe one last accoutremental zing . . . and then, the decision to end. And within this philosophy of “less is more,” the biggest challenge becomes when to step away and recognize perfection in “just enough.” It’s an empowering judgment call – a kind of discipline in a way – embracing simplicity in this funny world of ours that is obsessed with faster, newer, hotter, and anything that begins with “now with more.”
I find natural foods can take us back to a Tao-like state — appreciating beauty in simplicity.
Poor ol’ “less.”
In the realm of food — for the most part — modern cuisine teaches “just enough” is never enough. Our perfectly lovely foods are processed, packaged, mixed, mingled, extracted, added and bastardized until they’re pretty much unrecognizable. Then we process them again, add healthyish-looking colorings, artificial vitamins and preservatives, and reshape the result into forms that pass for food-like. I don’t think most people would be too impressed if I took a beautiful shodo painting, sprayed graffiti all over it until it turned grey, covered it in white-out to get to a white page again, and then drew a couple of lines mimicking the original painting in magic marker. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Photographer: Julia Gartland
I don’t know when it happened, but ever since Autumn began I have had an obsession with chili. I started ordering it from Curly’s Lunch, and became shamelessly addicted to the very cheap and hearty meal. Feeling intimidated to re-create one of my favorite cold weather meals, I knew I had to throw in some special flavors. The white corn kernels, as time consuming as they are, and the nutmeg make this stew really special. In the winter months, like most, I crave warm, filling one-pot meals that I can make on a Sunday and eat throughout the week. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long this batch will last!
Photographer V Blak
I am not one to use canned beans or vegetables. I most always cook with fresh seasonal produce. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do and use what you got. Like when you are stuck inside cause there is a snow storm and you forgot to go to the market so you got slim pickin’s to work with to make dinner. I open the pantry and my eyes fall upon a can of fire-roasted organic tomatoes. Hmmmmm…my mind is a flutter… I’m gonna make us some soup and a loaf of six-seed spelt bread.
Finally A Rice Cake You Might Just Like, The Brown Rice Cake with Calimyrna Figs By GreenChef Julia Gartland
Photographer: Julia Gartland
My CSA keeps getting better and better. A few weeks ago, we have received watermelon, several types of fresh herbs and bountiful amounts of different greens. No offense, but I was getting so sick of summer squash and cucumbers. I finally got over my summer squash boredom, but there is only so much I can take!
As I mentioned, we finally started getting some sassy greens in the mix. This week I got arugula, spicy greens mix and mesclun greens. They are currently taking over my refrigerator. I love nothing more than feeling like I’m drowning in a fridge full of produce, let me tell you. I am the worst food shopper ever, and by that I mean I never ever get necessities. I am always browsing my local store, and farmer’s markets just to find anything fun and inspiring to cook with. Therefore, I always have too much food on hand. It is literally a race to finish it all.
Today we are going to make, Brown Rice Cakes with Calimyrna Figs, Arugula And A Thyme-Infused Balsamic Reduction. Now doesn’t that sound good?
I mentioned before that I have a hard time eating figs. It isn’t that I dislike them, I just find I’m always eating them plain. I also always tend to eat them with sweet things (like tarts) , and this time I decided to do something a little more savory.
I Grew My First Pumpkin, Now Get Ready For A Raw Pumpkin Pie And The Best Damn Pumpkin Breakfast Smoothie… Period
The pumpkin pictured below, Is that not the purtiest, most perfect pumpkin you’ve ever laid your eyes on?! Now I’m not normally one to brag, but I growed that big beauty up there and man, I am proud! It’s my first successful squash, my garden’s inaugural gourd. The primary pumpkin! And apparently when I get excited, I alliterate!
I was so enamored of this precious pumpkin. I knew I had to do it justice, to create something really special. Lucky for me, a pumpkin goes a long way! I spent the whole weekend carving, chopping, blending, juicing, and otherwise altering the darling orb into all manner of delightful delicacies. But first things first, the prep work:
The heavy melon was washed and halved, the innards removed. The seeds were cleaned and set aside for roasty toasty. From there, it’s a blank canvas . . .
Photographer: Sayward Rebhal
Photographer V Blak
T’was a yummy morning. T’was. The dawn a breakin’, the bird’s a flyin’, the dog a wagin’, the fire a crackin’, the very ripe bananas a smellin’…love was in the air…All the elements were in place for the inspiration and creation of this recipe. A recipe I would never make if I were not visiting a special someone. A special someone, who happens to love his bananas. Me, I can’t stand em’. I know. I am in the minority. But I never liked them. As a kid maybe. My mom, who never cooked anything except her occasional overly steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and chicken soup when I was sick (Sorry Ma!), would make me mashed bananas with sour cream and honey. I know. Sounds nasty but as I kid I would crave it. Haven’t touched it since though. Not sure if I could stomach it now. No idea why I liked that mush so much. But at the time, it was Eureka. Now, I am just not a banana gal. Well, not until this morning.
About 15 minutes after I popped this thang in the oven the house started smelling and feeling like a warm, cozy embrace…of, well, bananas.
I found myself and my taste buds unexpectedly excited to taste it. Unfortunately, his oven sucks and the temperature doesn’t ever stay consistent so the bread got burned along the edges and the bottom a wee bit charred. That is why I cut it up into these cute little individual bite size pieces. A handy trick I learned from the Queen Bee Martha Stewart. Cause let me tell you honey — this moist, delicious banana bread tastes divine. Wouldn’t wanna throw it away cause it didn’t come out perfect. Yep. Another reminder of how there is no such thing as perfection and how imperfection can be perfect…
Photographer V Blak
Merry merry jolly jolly to you all! Almost time to celebrate. The tree trimming, the lights sparkling, the festive decorations hanging, the fireplaces crackling, the soups simmering, the stews slowly brewing, the spiced apple cider steaming, the rich hot chocolate warming, the bread baking…mmmmmm I could go on and on….love the holiday season. Always have. And I especially love love love to bake, to brew, to stew and to create something new everyday in my warm toasty kitchen.
When I was a vegan (yes, I said ‘was’) I decided to take the 6 month chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in NYC to learn how to cook vegan style. The focus was on cooking with whole foods and how important it is, especially if you are vegetarian, vegan or RAW to learn about how to eat a balanced diet. For example, when I was RAW for over a year I felt great for awhile but then I became totally imbalanced, tired and even lost my period. I was eating a tremendous amount of dried and fresh fruits or raw desserts to try and gain energy. I later learned it was a sign my body was craving protein. It took me a bit to get over my militant RAW food obsessions and transition out of that diet but when I did, I immediately felt better. I just did. I didn’t want to admit that eating a little organic animal protein balanced me out but it did. And it still does. So now, I like to call myself a Flexatarian — which is roughly translated to mostly vegan sprinkled with raw goat dairy, some organic meats and eggs. But I am getting off on a tangent now, so back to the holiday meal! Jeeezzzzzzz….. :)
One of my teachers at the Natural Gourmet was chef and cookbook author Myra Kornfeld. She wrote one of my favorite vegan cookbooks “The Voluptuous Vegan” A cookbook I always seem to go back to time and time again. I bring Myra and her book up because truth be told, this recipe is heavily inspired by a recipe of hers, which I have made many times over the years, for my family and friends. Not only does it look beautiful but it tastes incredible.
All of your guests (vegan or not) will be unbelievably nourished and satisfied. I am not a fan of serving up a veggie meal ladened with all those fake processed vegan meats. Tempeh is a whole food yes, but tofu is not and who the heck knows what’s in those vegan sausages and that damn Tofurky, right? If ya ask me, it’s a bunch of man made crap that will cause much unfortunate digestive upset… ;)
So….try this recipe out for a delicious whole food holiday meal alternative. Believe me, your vegan, vegetarian, and yes, even carnivore friends will be feeling the delicious holiday spirit and will leave your table very jolly!
Photographer V Blak
This recipe was sprung out of one of my many Martha Stewart inspired moments.
She called for straight up butter, of course, and so I wanted to see if I could use coconut butter instead. The batter was a little dry so I added nut milk and used chestnut flour instead of hazelnuts cause that’s what I had on hand and wow! They came out crunchy, delicately sweet and the perfect biscuit to serve along side some warm beverages.
Photographer V Blak
What is seitan? Well, technically it’s made from flour (just the gluten part), so I guess it’s a type of bread or noodle, but mentally it fits into the meat category for me. I have been a vegan now for about 13 years, I don’t crave meat or anything, but I do crave the textures, the sauces and the spices used to flavor meats. That is where seitan comes in for me. It’s a good substitute for chicken or I guess even pork.
The only way to really get the most out of seitan is to make it yourself from scratch. Most store bought seitan, just plain sucks. It’s tasteless, shaped badly, has a rubber texture and just doesn’t look good. In 13 years, I have only seen a freshly made version once and it was sold at Whole Foods in the Venice / Santa Monica areal. So, if your going to make a seitan dish, please try this recipe out and make your own fresh seitan.
This recipe is so simple to make, even a monkie can do it. Plus it only takes about two hours to complete. I know, your saying, only two hours, that is a lot of time. Yes, it would be a chunk of time, if you only make one batch, that is why I make 2 to 3 batches at a time and save the steaks in the refrigerator to use throughout the week. Also, this recipe requires making your vegetable stock to simmer the seitan in, which gives the seitan it’s flavor. I normally save the stock and make a quick soup with it. So don’t toss it. After I made my seitan this week, I made a black bean vegetable soup with miso and soy sauce. It was great.
Here is what I love about this recipe. The final seitan steaks are juicy, warm, have a slightly crispy skin and are packed with flavor. The trick is after you simmer the seitan in the vegetable stock, you re-coat them in a olive oil and teriyaki sauce, salt, pepper and then grill them. This seals in the flavors and takes the steaks to a whole new level. Try it, I bet you like them. A word of warning, seitan isn’t the healthiest food option and since it’s pure gluten, some people might have issues with it. I am not one of those people :)
Let me know what you think.
Photographer V Blak
My Green Diva Yogini Stephanie Bernstein, the founder of To-go Ware, and I created this recipe years ago when our days were filled with nothing but yoga and cooking in the kitchen. It has evolved through the years but the core remains the same. This is a wonderfully nourishing breakfast to keep your inner spirt warm and cozy through these cold winter months!